The Circuit

Who's Behind the Curtain?

Many used to think Vice President Dick Cheney was the man pulling President Bush's strings. But it was clear Feb. 27 that someone is pushing Cheney's buttons.

During a ceremony to unveil the redesigned FirstGov Web portal, Cheney praised the improved Web site as an example of the administration's determination to "put the latest technology at the service of the people." Then, with an exaggerated flourish, Cheney pushed a button on his podium to make FirstGov appear on a large screen. But the image appeared just before Cheney pushed the button.

Conceding that an aide in the front row with a laptop really controlled the screen, Cheney smoothed over the faux pas, declaring the premature appearance the product of "good management."

Reconstruction

The Treasury Department is adding a $200,000 request to its fiscal 2002 supplemental budget to send old Internal Revenue Service computers to Afghani.stan to help the fledgling government track its finances.

The money would cover transportation and technical costs as well as installation of 1,000 IRS computers that are at least 2 years old, according to Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols. All data would be scrubbed before the computers are shipped overseas, he added.

Nichols said the computers would be used as "core equipment to manage the budget of the new interim Afghan administration" and monitor its banking transactions.

A United Nations fund will cover administrative costs, such as the acquisition of supplies and equipment for offices. Billions of dollars of aid is expected to stream to Kabul as part of the rebuilding effort, but Afghanistan does not have anything remotely resembling state-of-the-art computers to keep track of the money.

GovNet Gets a Look

This week, the General Services Administration is meeting with Richard Clarke, the president's cyberspace security adviser, to decide the next steps for GovNet, the proposed separate intranet for critical government services, said Sallie McDonald, assistant commissioner for information assurance and critical infrastructure protection at GSA's Federal Technology Service. GSA collected and evaluated more than 160 responses from industry to the October 2001 request for information on possible commercial solutions for GovNet. The administration is moving carefully with GovNet because of concerns from government and industry about whether this is the most efficient use of scarce security resources. Stay tuned.

Flyzik Shuffles Workload

Jim Flyzik, chief information officer at Treasury, is no longer wearing three hats — at least not officially. Until two weeks ago, Flyzik served as the acting assistant secretary for management at the department, the CIO and the vice chairman of the CIO Council. But on Feb. 7, Edward Kingman Jr. was sworn in as the assistant secretary, bumping Flyzik out of one job.

Most recently, Kingman served as president of a company in the Czech Republic. He also launched the first mobile Web portal in Central Europe. But Flyzik shouldn't be worrying about his own resume. He's got plenty to do now that he's on the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board and playing a crucial role in homeland security efforts.

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